Comparison of public transport in Finland and Sweden

Veli Himanen, Antti Permala, Robert Lippoy

Research output: Book/ReportReport


Recent decades have seen bus transportation in the developed countries of the West taken out of the hands of private-sector companies and put under the administrative and financial control of the public sector. The financial difficulties and increased level of costs that have followed as a consequence of this policy have led countries such as Great Britain and the United States to deregulate bus transport services and rekindle the spirit of private enterprise. This study presents a comparison of the public transport systems of Finland and Sweden, focusing in particular on bus transport services. The study describes the present state of the public transport systems in both countries as well as their development since 1960. In Finland, bus transportation is handled by two fundamentally different systems working in tandem: one based on private enterprise and the other falling within the scope of public-sector economic management. The later is the case in the metropolitan area, Turku and Tampere while the former encompasses the remainder of the country. The operation and management of the public transport system in Sweden takes place within the realm of the public sector. Local and district transport in Sweden is generally handled by provincial transport companies, which are jointly owned by the municipalities and the provincial government The Swedes use more public transport services than the Finns. This difference is explained by the fact that domestic air travel is more commonly used in Sweden than in Finland. Finland and Sweden are on equal terms as far as the combined use of rail and bus transport is concerned. However, the Finns make more use of buses and Swedes more use of trains. In large cities, the cost level of bus transportation administered and financed by the public sector is about the same in Finland and in Sweden. The cost level of public-sector bus transport system in Sweden is significantly higher than the cost level of Finland's private-sector- based system. In Sweden as a whole, subsidies make up over a half of public transport costs, while in Stockholm, three-quarters of the costs are covered by subsidies. In Finland, bus transportation outside the metropolitan area, Turku and Tampere is essentially free of subsidies paid out of tax revenues. The maintenance of private ownership in the public transport system is very economical for Finland. The application of the Swedish system in Finland would increase annual costs by about FIM 1 billion, which would have to be covered by taxes. If the subsidization of public transport is needed, it should primarily be directed towards lowering the costs of public transport.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages56
ISBN (Print)951-38-3807-2
Publication statusPublished - 1990
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

SeriesValtion teknillinen tutkimuskeskus. Tiedotteita


  • comparison
  • evaluation
  • public intransport
  • buses (vehicles)
  • costs
  • transportation management
  • economic analysis
  • utilization
  • Finland


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